Over the last few weeks, I have been on FB Live and Periscope sharing the importance of being intentional in leaving a legacy worth passing on.
On this Father’s Day, I’ve thought about the legacies left behind by some fathers, and those still being created by others. Men who have left and are leaving their marks in my life and that of my family.
In honor of these fathers, I wanted to create a tribute – a list of attributes of great fathers. While there are many things that could be said about each of them, I will choose to focus on only one or two.
Presenting, in order of appearance in my life (as much as possible)…
Harold Dorsey, Daddy: Love, patience
Growing up, I was a daddy’s girl, who never questioned my dad’s love for me. He showed it in his hugs, bike rides to the candy store, school drop-offs in the dead of winter after he had worked all night, because I was convinced I would “freeze to death”. And, through it all, he was patient, calm, never raising his voice. In fact, in my entire life, I have only seen him angry once. A great way to start…
Royal Simmons, Papa (deceased): Proud, provider
One of the compliments Bigma has given Papa repeatedly was that he was a great provider for his family. He was also a proud man. He loved sharing about his dedication to his job (and later, how long he was retired). But, one of the most endearing things I remember about him is when I would see him tear up over one of his grandchild’s accomplishments – be it preaching a first sermon, or graduating from college. In fact, those would be the only times I would see him cry – pride over the legacy he was leaving.
I loved my granddaddy, and wrote about his impact in my life after he died last year, at 102 years old. At over 6 feet tall, he had a towering presence, but was always calm, patient, gentle. This man never had a harsh word, which led some to call him a “gentle giant.” To know some of his story, the pain that he saw, the loss and injustices he’d experienced (because you experience at lot in 102 years) and see that he still lived without anger, bitterness, and anxiety, and treated people well and with respect was remarkable.
Royal Jr, Michael, Mitchell (deceased), Jerry, Uncles: Protectors, humor
Y’all. My mother was the only girl out of 5 children. Her brothers loved her fiercely, and I have always thought of them of protectors. In fact, I have memories of young men in my neighborhood trying to “holla”, only to hear another one say, “Don’t mess with her, that’s Seymo’s niece.” While, I never knew which uncle they were referring to (because at various points I think all of them may have been called that), it made me feel safe. Protected. The irony is, I also associate them with laughter – tears streaming, gut busting, laugh out loud, doubled over laughter. Whether it is at a wedding, or funeral, in a home or hospital – the one thing that is guaranteed when we are all together is laughter (I’m laughing just writing this).
Julius Rawls (deceased): Mentor, encourager
Right around the time my mother took ill, Rev. Rawls came to be an assistant pastor at our church. He became a mentor and a 2nd father to me (even though he had 2 amazing daughters). Where am I today, in regards to ministry, is largely because of his influence. He pointed out that I had the spiritual gift of teaching. He also realized that I was clueless as to how to cultivate it, and was not in a place where it would be encouraged. So, he took me shopping for my first bible study tools -a study bible, commentary, and dictionary. “Start small”, he said as he would teach and encourage me. Later, when I was ready, he recommended I investigate going to seminary. That encouragement set me on a trajectory that would open doors to serve and live in places I never thought possible (and eventually meet my husband).
Chauncey Hatcher, brother-in-law: Motivated, great friend
I’ve known this man for 18 years now. I have seen him overcome challenges and stay motivated and committed to accomplish whatever he believes he is supposed to do – be it school, counseling students, raising 5 kids (including 2 sets of twins). Back when we were younger we could sit up for hours talking. I have watched him go the distance for friends and family, and I love him for it. I am proud to call him my brother.
Dr. Eddie Lane (deceased): Integrity, guide
I remember walking into his office on campus for the first time. Fresh from Chicago – I was confident I was to be in seminary, but sure of little else. He asked a few questions. Gave a bit of advice. Invited me to visit his church and meet his wife. I went. From there he became my guide, pastor and protector – helping me navigate school, heartbreak, singleness, ministry…life. I admired his integrity – you knew what he thought, he loved his wife openly, he was honest, and committed to pleasing God with his life.
Walter Mickels: Committed to truth, hospitality
Big Daddy and Me-mo (as my children call them), allowed me to move in with them for 3 weeks. Three weeks turned into 3 years, and I feel like I have always been in the family. I am introduced as their daughter, my husband is their son-in-law, and our kids are their grandkids. They choose to love us. It is a beautiful thing. I call that hospitality, because I cannot think of another word for it, but, really, it’s way beyond, because hospitality can be temporary. This is a lifetime. And, during this time, I have seen what it means to have a man committed to following Christ and the truth and how it permeates every aspect of his life.
Arrvel Wilson: Change agent
Pastor Wilson is another father figure. He is the pastor of the 2nd church I attended in Dallas, and president of school where I taught for years. He co-officiated our wedding (one of my memorable moments was seeing him emotional as our friend, Chris, sang his song Age With You). Through him, I learned the importance of being committed to a calling and being obedient to God. I have seen the people God can gather to help when one person is faithful. I don’t have to be or do everything – just do what I am supposed to do.
James Boyd: Faith, communication/counsel (no pic)
I spent many Sundays on the couch in the Boyds’ home. There was always food, always laughter, always great conversations. We could go from crazy current events, to laughing to life struggles to a counseling session in the span of a few hours. And he always expressed faith that God would work everything out. Last year when we went to visit, my heart swelled (and tears formed), when our son walked right into their home (first time ever) as if he has always been there, and asked for chicken because he somehow knew they had to be food there. And there was. Loved it.
Aaron Pankey, Eric Mason, Ikki Soma: Love for their wives
I have heard that the best gift a father can give his children, is to love their mother. These men became my older brothers (and protectors) when I moved to Dallas. I watched them love their wives, sacrifice for them, cover them and set an example of how that looked, and what I needed to pray for/look for in my own life. It was often said of them, “He loves him some… (fill in wife’s name). I remember smiling many years later when I overheard someone say of Reggie “He loves him some Kim.” I knew I did well.
Jim Williamson: Consistent (no pic)
I think of consistency with Jim because he was at one point my boss. One of the best ever. But, what I came to realize later (we all eventually left that organization, but moved to the same city later) was that who he was at work is who he was at home. Still encouraging, still funny, still committed to excellence, and patient.
My father in law. Y’all. This man is tough. For 30+ years he has been a quadriplegic. He still sits on advisory boards, readily gives advice, can conduct business and get things done. He’s been granted awards for his involvement in the community. He is a proud man (Marine proud), who holds his own and I admire him for it.
When Reggie and I first got married, we had the pleasure of spending Sunday afternoons and many holidays pulled up to a table, curled up on the couch or sprawled out on the floor of the Allens. They were our unofficial marriage counselors without knowing it. I remember watching Edward with his girls (4 of them). He was always so laid back, a constant in a home swirling with all things girly. He was always involved, constantly interacting and engaged, loving on them with just the right amount of tenderness and toughness (if needed). It was always so sweet and inspiring to see how much they love their daddy.
John Maguire: Prayerful, calming
Reggie and I say that he “oozes” Jesus. Such a calming presence. There were times, when we used to be able to get to church early, i.e. B.K .(before kids), when we would walk in and see Pastor John praying over the seats. I remember his constant encouragement, affirmation, prayers and compassion after we miscarried and tried to conceive again. He loved, counseled and encouraged my husband so well during the difficult early years of our marriage, I am forever grateful for that.
Tim Cochran: Hospitality, fun
The holidays, when we weren’t with the Allens or family, we were with the Cochrans. Tim is just fun and the life of the party. He and his wife have been great examples of what it means to use your home to serve others well. From having people live with them, to hosting gatherings and Bible studies to swim parties – their door was always open.
Dave Clark, Aaron Roy: Mercy, encouragement
These men are my current pastors, dear brothers and true servant-leaders. So much to say about what I have learned from them. Pastor Dave (left) has the gift of mercy. In times when I would look at a situation and toss my hands up in frustration, he was there extending grace, loving people well, stretching himself beyond what most would think feasible, with patience that only God can give. Pastor Aaron is the encourager. He will help you believe you can do absolutely anything. Have a vision? Tell Him. Everyone needs a cheerleader. He is dedicated to serving the underserved, those that most would look over. He is there rooting for them, pushing for them, fighting for them and cheering them on when everyone else has given up hope.
Pete Riley: Servant’s heart
We met “Uncle” Pete 5 years ago, on a vision visit to Richmond, CA. From the moment we met the Rileys, we fell in love with them. I appreciate the father figure he’s been to Reggie as they are “cut from a similar cloth”. Laid back, patient, gifted with his hands, (and sharp, look at him y’all) – he is the epitome of a servant. He is willing to serve and care for anyone – regardless of status, position, possessions, etc. He just serves. Period. And does so with an amazing attitude and that smile.
Reggie Gillespie, My Boo: sacrificial, attentive
Well, of course I’ve saved the best for last. My husband of 9 years (where has the time gone???). Reggie has so many of these qualities – family oriented, servant leader, encourager, loving….But, the words that immediately came to my mind are sacrificial and attentive. This man sacrifices for his family. His time, his energy, money, desires. He often knows when I’m not emotionally well before I do, and makes adjustments to help me get re-centered. Even if it costs him something. I hear, often, “Kim, if you don’t care for you, you can’t care for the family.” He gets it and I appreciate him for that. I am grateful for the things I have learned, how he encourages, supports, and even challenges me (though I give him a hard time – I’m working on it). I love my boo.
The amazing thing about this list is that are many more men I could include. But, these are men I have seen fathering in some capacity (me and others). These are men my family and I have spent countless hours with, sometimes into the wee hours of morning – in their homes, on their couches, at their tables, in their cars and churches and lives. We have seen the highs of many, and the lows of some. They are brothers, and fathers and uncles. We’ve seen them up close at various stages of fatherhood. Our hearts have been knit together at various points in our journeys. These are men who have dried our tears, prayed us through, housed us, supported us, encouraged us, coached us, challenged us, and loved us.
I do not know what I have done to deserve to have been in the company of so many wonderful men. In fact, I know I have done nothing. That is why it is called grace. And I am grateful.
Grateful that in a time when so many people have so many negative experiences with men, I can look over this list.
Grateful that when so many people have so many negative things to say about men, I can show them this list
So to you all, I say, Happy Father’s Day and thank you for your legacy!